Tag Archive | "Urban Zen"

With the New Year Comes New Sales for Sag Harbor Shoppers

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Veteran shopper Mara Certic checks out the wares at Urban Zen Monday morning. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

Veteran shopper Mara Certic checks out the wares at Urban Zen Monday morning. (Tessa Raebeck photo).

By Tessa Raebeck

While most retail stores in East Hampton and Southampton board up their windows for the winter, leaving a desolate Main Street for the local population, in Sag Harbor many stores are not only staying open, they’re also offering great deals for the year round community.

The sale signs are popping up across Bay Street and Main Street, with some stores offering as much as 75 percent off select items.

“It’s just a nice way to give back to locals,” says Kim Keller, the manager at Urban Zen on Bay Street, which is offering 50 to 75 percent off select items through March.

Giving back is at the foundation of the Urban Zen business model, which is centered around a “soulful economy,” as Keller calls it.

Haitian crafted goods are for sale at the store through the Haiti Artisan Project. Started by owner Donna Karan following the earthquake that shook Haiti four years ago, the project returns 100 percent of the proceeds from the items to Haiti.

The luxury items at Urban Zen range in price from $20 for “Haiti hearts,” or handmade heart-shaped rocks, to $7,000 for a crystal chandelier handcrafted in Haiti.

In addition to the Haiti Artisan Project samplings, Urban Zen has a variety of pieces from across the world, ranging from handcrafted belts made in Brooklyn by designer Jason Ross to leather jackets made by hand using the best materials in Italy.

“Obviously,” said Keller, “this store could not survive if it weren’t for our summer clientele. Like everyone around here, that is our business.”

Keller added that about two-thirds of the store’s business is conducted from June to Labor Day, but staying open in the winter – and having sales – is Urban Zen’s way to support the local community.

Although most locals may not be stopping into Urban Zen for a $895 cashmere dress from Italy, sales make it tangible to “collect” items by buying one or two pieces a season.

“They’re beautiful,” said Keller, wearing a cashmere sweater, scarf and hat, of the clothes at Urban Zen, “they last forever and go with everything.”

The men’s and women’s stores of Flying Point Surf Boutique on Main Street are similarly thinking of Sag Harbor’s year round community this winter, with sales of 15 to 50 percent off on all summer items.

“It’s basically to bring people in during the winter and help the locals out,” said Loreto Vignapiano, manager at the Flying Point Women’s store in Sag Harbor.

Vignapiano said after realizing last season that a lot of customers were coming into the store looking for summer clothes to wear on tropical vacations this time of year, they decided to put on a winter sale.

Until the new spring gear comes in in March, all swimwear and summer clothing in the women’s store is half off and flip-flops are buy one, get one free.

At the men’s store, board shorts, Reef sandals, and “pretty much all summer clothing” is half off, according to manager Bethany Semlear. Rashguards and tee shirts are buy one, get one free. The store is also offering 25 percent off wetsuit tips, 20 percent off body and boogie boards and 15 to 20 percent off sunglasses.

A few blocks down Main Street at Satori, a women’s boutique, owner Jessica Kenny is offering 30 percent off all clothing, excluding accessories, bras, hats, scarves, gloves, jewelry and some leggings, as part of its end of the season sale.

Kris Kim, a Satori employee, said there is also an ongoing selection of items for 50 percent off in the back of the store.

Traditionally less expensive than its luxury counterparts, Flashbacks is, as usual, offering items for $10 on a sale rack displayed outside the storefront.

An end of season sale of up to 75 percent off items at luxury boutique Life’Style ended last weekend.

A winter promotion at Calypso for 60 percent off of all sale merchandise also ended Monday. With the new collection having just arrived in store, however, manager Jennifer Lucey expects another deal is just around the corner.

A Season of Wellness

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By Emily J Weitz


The Urban Zen Summer Wellness series kicked off last weekend with Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman discussing the healing powers of yoga. Urban Zen, an organization founded by Donna Karan, has a mission that includes Preserving Cultures, Empowering Children, and Wellness. It is the third of these initiatives that will be the focus of the current series.

Urban Zen Wellness takes a holistic view, incorporating five basic healing modalities into the concept of integrative therapy. Urban Zen Integrative Therapists (UZIT) draw from the wisdom of yoga, essential oils, nutrition, reiki and contemplative care to assist people in times of trouble and to empower them in everyday life. The program works with Southampton Hospital and has also sent several groups of UZIT therapists to work in hospitals in Haiti.

This summer, Urban Zen is sponsoring a lecture series devoted to getting this wisdom out to the community, free of charge.

“This lecture series helps to communicate to the consumer that Urban Zen is more than a retail store,” says Kevin Salyers, vice president of retail with the Urban Zen Foundation. “It shows what Urban Zen is as a foundation.”

The Urban Zen store, nestled at the foot of Sag Harbor on Bay Street, is filled with gorgeous clothes, jewelry, and furniture. But the idea is that the retail supports a much bigger cause.

“We’re connecting the dots between philanthropy and commerce,” says Salyers. “As retailers, we are all looking for unique ways to connect to our customers, and this location gives us a platform. This series is designed to get people into the shop, to let them know that by shopping at Urban Zen, you’re supporting programs like this.”

This Saturday, July 21, Jared Koch, founder of www.cleanplates.com, will lead a 2-hour discussion on eating healthy while dining out. Koch, who studied pre-med at the University of Michigan before choosing a path devoted more specifically to nutrition and integrative wellness, will share his five precepts for eating healthier.

“Eating healthier does not have to be challenging,” says Koch. “In fact, it can be an easy, pleasurable, and sacrifice-free adventure.”

After the conversation, Koch already suggested some of the healthiest Clean Plate establishments in town for those who have worked up an appetite. Two of his recommendations? Estia’s and South Fork Kitchen.

On Saturday, July 28, another of Urban Zen’s healing modalities will be discussed. Pamela Miles is a Reiki Master who has been practicing this method of hands-on healing for 25 years.

“Reiki doesn’t address symptoms or conditions directly,” says Miles. “Rather, it balances your symptoms and engages your body’s own self-healing so you are better able to address whatever stresses come into your life.”

Miles has practiced Reiki on people at every level of health and at all ages, from brand-new babies to people undergoing open-heart surgery. She encourages people to seek out the medical assistance they need, and offers Reiki as a way to balance the side effects and enhance the benefits.

“No matter what medical assistance you are receiving,” says Miles, “you can safely use Reiki at the same time.”

On Saturday, August 4, Lauren Zander will lead a discussion on life coaching, a career that she has in many ways pioneered. Zander is the co-founder and chairperson of the Handel Group, a corporate consulting and private coaching company that guides some of the most high-powered people and organizations through their most vulnerable times. Zander is in her fifth year teaching a popular class called “Designing Your Life” at MIT and is beginning a course at Stanford School of Business this year.

In her blog for the Huffington Post, Zander has written on subjects ranging from lying to pursuing your dreams to confronting your dark side. She believes that it is through first confronting and then inspiring that people can move forward.

On Saturday, August 11, Brad Thompson will lead a conversation on Essential Oils and their practical application in every day life. He plans to give a brief history of the oils and to talk about some of the uses today.

“There are two schools of aromatherapy in the United States,” says Thompson, “and we’ll discuss the differences. The first is the English and the second is the French. The English school tends to dilute everything, to use chemical extractions, and to rub or inhale. The French school uses all pathways by including ingestion, direct application, and inhalation of the oils.”

After he explains the ancient history of essential oils and how they came to be a part of American culture, he will get people smelling the oils.

“I’ll just see what oils pop out in my mind and then have the individual smell that,” says Thompson. “If they like it, then they’ll use it.”

As we move further into August, the series will continue with Dr. Frank Lipman (August 18), whose Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in New York City has helped people move towards integrative wellness for 20 years. Lipman believes in sustainable wellness as opposed to quick fixes, and combines western medicine with healing modalities like acupuncture, nutrition, herbs and bodywork.

On August 25, Stefanie Sacks, MS, CNS, who is on the nutrition faculty at Kripalu Center, will discuss her practice of working to prevent illness and restore health through personalized nutrition therapy and culinary guidance.

On September 1, Ragan Finalborgo, Wellness Coordinator at Southampton Hospital, will discuss the services currently available, including healing practices administered by Urban Zen Integrative Therapists, through the Wellness Institute at the Hospital.

All discussions are on Saturdays from 11 to 1 at Urban Zen in Sag Harbor, and they are all offered to the community free of charge.

Bringing Healing Practices to Haiti

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web Urban zen

By Emily J. Weitz

Urban Zen is a foundation begun by Donna Karan whose mission is to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children. One of the ongoing efforts of the Urban Zen Foundation is their committed work in Haiti. Next month, another group of local Urban Zen Integrative Therapists will travel to Haiti to bring their healing efforts there.

The Urban Zen Integrative Therapy program, created by Sag Harbor residents Rodney Yee and Colleen Saidman, is a specific healing methodology that includes Restorative Yoga, Reiki, Aromatherapy, Nutrition, and Contemplative Care — learning to be a companion or a witness. These techniques are designed to help with the most common problems associated with trauma: pain, anxiety, nausea, insomnia, constipation (PANIC).

“Doing these things together is exponential in its effect,” says Yee.

“They dovetail amazingly well together,” adds Saidman. “You do the bodywork to get rid of agitation, then get the patient into a restorative pose, then do reiki and essential oils. We didn’t know how well they worked layered on top of each other… When we did it in the training and all the modalities came together at the same time, Rodney and I looked at each other and we knew it was something pretty magical.”

The idea behind each of these healing techniques is to rebalance the system. If the body is in balance, it will heal itself more efficiently.

“It’s a holistic system,” says Janera Soerel, an Urban Zen Integrative Therapist who has spent time in Haiti. “It’s very restorative. We usually start with yoga, to stimulate circulation. After a little movement, we place the person in a restorative pose to relax or energize [depending on their needs].”

Soerel says forward bends, like child’s pose, with the forehead on the floor, are calming, while backbends, like supported bridge, are energizing. Once the patient is in a comfortable restorative pose, the practitioner will integrate essential oils.

“If we have someone who is depressed, we use an oil like peppermint for energizing,” Soerel explains. “If we have someone who needs to be calmed down, we use a soothing oil like lavender.”

Once the oils have been applied, the therapists will do Reiki healing techniques, which is a laying on of hands.

“By placing the hands on specific points on the body, we can help balance the system,” she says.

Contemplative care is a specific modality in which therapists learn how to be with patients as they go through the reality of their illnesses and treatments.

“It’s just about being with them in the situation that they are in,” says Soerel. “We are trained by different teachers, like monks, about holding the space to allow the patient to experience whatever they are going through. It’s in the line of the Buddhist tradition of being mindful and present in the moment, allowing the reality to be as it is.”

The nutrition aspect of the UZIT training is very much about self-care. As they are not nutritionists, Soerel says they do not coach their patients on what to eat. Rather, they use their understanding of food as medicine to take care of themselves.

Eric Pettigrew, a local yoga teacher, homeopathist, and Urban Zen Integrative Therapist, traveled to Haiti with the Urban Zen program a few months back.

“We were so well taken care of,” he says. “We shared a clean tent, where they changed the sheets every two days. The food was awesome. We were very well received.”

The days began early in the morning with an hour-long class that incorporated the five modalities. Most of the students were doctors and nurses.

“The most profound work we do there is helping the core: the nurses and doctors who are exhausted,” says Pettigrew. “They work 12-hour shifts and maybe one day off in the week. They are performing surgery after surgery… They were so happy to take the time off to come and work with us for an hour.”

After the morning class, though, Pettigrew’s group headed to St. Damien Hospital, where they worked directly with patients.

“When the people at the hospital saw the maturity of our group (we were all in our 40s), they invited us to work in the emergency room. We did one-on-one movements, bedside, with patients, helping people who had just arrived at the emergency room.”

Pettigrew was in Haiti for about a week, and his daily life consisted not only of working with people but living with them.

“The tent was close to the maternity wards,” he recalls. “So you could hear babies crying nearly 24 hours a day… And there was a chapel right next to our tent. Every morning there was a mass at 7 a.m. And every morning there were corpses wrapped in plastic or cloth. Not too many people were there. With the priest we might have been five or six people in the church. Sometimes there were family members of the corpse, but rarely. Starting the day like this, coffee and then mass, kneeling around the corpses piled up in the middle of the floor. On a daily basis it was a reminder for me of the circle of life and death.”

This juxtaposition of life and death is something Pettigrew got used to as the days wore on.

“At first it was shocking,” he says. “But by the end of the week it’s just, there’s the corpse and there’s the baby crying. It’s a reminder of dying and living and birthing. That was quite transformative.”

The upcoming trip to Haiti is part of the UZIT training – students need to finish their clinical hours, and they can either work in Haiti, at Southampton Hospital, or at Beth Israel in the city. To learn more about the UZIT program or other work that Urban Zen does around the world, check out www.urbanzen.org.

There are a number of ways to get involved with the efforts of Urban Zen. At the Sag Harbor shop, all proceeds go to the foundation. Every Sunday at Yoga Shanti, there is an Urban Zen class that’s open to the public. To learn about the training itself, go to the Urban Zen web site at www.urbanzen.org and click on Well-Being.

Businesses Fresh and Local

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Downtown Sag Harbor is awash with fresh faces this summer. As you walk down Main Street in the heat and humidity don’t be surprised to find a brand new store tucked in amongst more familiar facades — equally welcoming and air-conditioned. And as village residents continue to battle the attempted invasion of nationwide chains, it should be nice to note many of these new stores fit in with Sag Harbor’s small town, “Mom and Pop” charm. Most of the storeowners even live locally.
Salons are in no short supply in Sag Harbor, especially with three new spaces opening in the area this year. A dream came true for Erica McSweeney on May 1 when she opened her own Harbor Salon at 75 Main Street, between Kites of the Harbor and Land Shark. Born and raised in Sag Harbor, McSweeney knew she only ever wanted to be in her hometown. Wanting her salon to be centered in village life, McSweeney has decorated the space with photographs of the area, and she offers discounts to Sag Harbor volunteers and business district employees.
Xavier Merat, who has worked in Sag Harbor for years in several venues on Main Street, opened the Salon Xavier on Memorial Day weekend. The salon is located on Bay Street in a studio space that once held the Flashbacks Home furniture store. Merat has partnered with the Juicy Naam, a holistic juice bar in East Hampton, offering packages promising inner and outer beauty. Also new is the Beach House Day Spa on Division Street, owned by Kate Mullane. Mullane has hoped to create a small oasis of relaxation, offering full spa services, a place to relieve oneself of stress. Her salon, as well as the two others, offers a full line of organic beauty products.
Another addition to Main Street is Blue, a clothing boutique owned by Rowlanda Blue Stephanos. An equestrian show jumper, Stephanos first opened a store in Wellington, Florida before relocating to the space in Sag Harbor on the corner of Madison Street and Jermain Avenue, and recently moved again to a more central location on the corner of Main and Long Island Avenue, next to Weekend Warrior. The store opened in May, and offers women’s clothing and accessories as well as a men’s line. Also displayed in Blue is the local artwork of Shelli Breidenbach, whose themes focus on beaches and horses. Stephanos currently resides Sagaponack and is enamored of Sag Harbor. 
“It’s a great town,” she said. “I just love this area.”
Lisa Perry also sang Sag Harbor’s praises, speaking from within her store on Main Street next to The American Hotel. A resident of North Haven for 10 years, Perry is a designer whose clothes are featured in stores from Harrods in London to chains in Greece, Italy, and Russia. Perry’s Sag Harbor store focuses on “great design,” primarily that of the 1960s. Products in the store include dresses, bags, jewelry, bed sheets, and various accoutrements and books on design. 
“Sag Harbor is our town. I think it’s the most charming Hampton,” exalted Perry. “I love that it’s a community of artists. People have been coming in to look at the items and really getting nostalgic.” 
Perry also noted Sag Harbor’s vibrant nightlife, 
“There’s always activity,” she said. “The town really comes alive at night.”
Just across the street, another new clothing store has opened its doors below Java Nation. LABL, owned by locals Rob and Mary Lynne Hess, is a street wear store bringing New York City fashions to the Hamptons for reasonable prices. The store had a successful grand opening on July Fourth weekend and has joined forces with local youth arts organization Arts 4 Collective. The brainchild of the Hess’s two children, Pierson alumni Kirsten and Dave Hess, LABL will display the work of young local artists.
Urban Zen, a retail store owned by Donna Karan, opened this Memorial Day at 4 Bay Street. Urban Zen was initially a foundation started by designer Karan to promote “well-being, preserving cultures, and empowering children.” There are currently two retail spaces, in Sag Harbor and Manhattan, selling apparel, home décor and more. The proceeds from the stores go directly to the foundation. 
“Sag Harbor was our first choice,” said store manager Annette Azan. “We have been welcomed. It’s been amazing.”
Several new eateries have also come to town. Restaurateur Ed “Jean Luc” Kleefield has renovated Main Street’s Mumbo Jumbo and has opened the Grappa Wine Bar in its stead. The restaurant will serve a full menu of Italian dishes, and, of course, will be one of the few wine bars on the South Fork. Also coming soon is the Amber Bakery, owned by local Amber Kopcza, a caterer with over 20 years of experience. The bakery will be located on Long Island Avenue, where once was East End Computers. Michael Cavaniola, of Cavaniola’s Gourmet Cheese Shop, has opened a complimentary wine store just next door to his Division Street cheese lover’s paradise. Specializing in wines that go well with cheese, Cavaniola’s Wine Cellar is situated in the historic Umbrella House.